Between May-August 2019, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) convened a series of meetings of cultural workers and peacebuilder in Mindanao, Philippines to discuss IMPACT (Imaging Together A Platform for Arts, Culture and Conflict Transformation) and their engagement in this ecosystem. Babu Ayindo, an arts and peacebuilding practitioner and IMPACT Steering Committee member co-facilitated the first meeting on May 25 together with Christine Vertucci, the Director of MPI and one of the participants of IMPACT Design Lab.
Participants shared about their work in the performing arts and the challenges they have faced over the years; how they have used arts and storytelling to process trauma and the need for a platform for artists and peacebuilders to come together. A participant who is an indigenous person spoke about how she uses theater to engage young people in her community to understand and appreciate their own culture. Another participant who is a teacher believes that through the performing arts, young people not only become aware of their own culture but also are able to explore ways to inform the world about Mindanao culture.
In July, MPI hosted the second meeting of South East Asia regional hub with cultural workers and peacebuilding practitioners (both those who attended the first meeting and new participants). Out of this meeting came a proposal to have an Arts and Peacebuilding Training for 15 to 20 young artists in the Davao City area. Its objectives were defined as: 1) to engage youth in creative activities as a way to raise their awareness about social issues and provide entry points to lead them to work for social change/justice through art forms that are attractive to this generation of young people; and 2) to provide a venue for the older generation of cultural workers/artists/performers/cultural activists, who are no longer engaged in groups and/or collectives, to re-engage with each other. The output of this training was to be a theatrical production to be presented at the end of 2019 during the Mindanao Week of Peace.
Work on planning and conceptualizing the training program continued through July and August under the coordination of MPI but it has not yet materialized. The plan is still in the agenda of MPI and the South-East Asia regional hub and waits for the right moment to be carried on.
This article was originally in the Peacebuilding and the Arts Now: January 2020 newsletter of Brandeis University.